Are you feeling anxious?
Are you worried about what might happen tomorrow?
Do you struggle with "what if's" in life?
A few years ago, I experienced an episode of anxiety that caught me by surprise. I was folding laundry and mindlessly watching a television show (BBC's Escape to the Country - so good!) when suddenly my heart began to pound and I broke out in a sweat. My thoughts became jumbled and I felt overcome by intense anxiousness. I sat down on the bed and tried to breathe and pray my way out of it. Eventually it passed and I've only experienced this kind of episode a few times since, but it was a wake-up call to the seriousness of anxiety as a real mental issue.
There is another kind of anxiety though, a low-level worry that hums in the background of my mind that presents a daily challenge to my mental and spiritual well-being. It's the fear of what might happen: the "what if's" that seem to find their way into my thoughts.
What if I get cancer?
What if my marriage fails?
What if something happens to one of my kids?
What if I'm wrong about all the things I've believed?
What if I never achieve anything worthwhile?
I've found great comfort in meditating on scriptures like Romans 8:28 (all things work together for good) and Isaiah 41:10 (Do not fear for I am with you). I've made lists of go-to verses to let them sink into my soul for such moments.
This prayer, from the Book of Common Prayer, never fails to soothe my anxious thoughts:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day:
Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What I love about this prayer is that its focus is on today. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but this present moment.
This new day.
He has brought me here through difficulties and challenges, joys and heartaches.
He is with me still.
And He is with you, too.
Praying these words reminds me to leave the "fulfilling of your purpose" to God. Rather than pleading for my desired outcome (and feeling anxious about making sure everything goes according to my plan) I can put my situation into His hands, knowing that His purposes are so much better than my own.
It's so easy to let our anxious thoughts take over, so that we begin to live from a position of fear. When we adopt an attitude of looking for God's purposes in whatever struggle we face, we can step into a place called "trust."
You can breathe. You can rest.
God has brought you this far.
He is not going to leave you now.
He is going to fulfill His purposes in your life.
He loves you and wants you to flourish in every circumstance.
He is with you in this new day.